Baroque music is a style of music that flourished from about 1600 to 1750. It originated in Italy and spread throughout Europe, creating diverse national styles and forms. Baroque music is characterized by its grandiose, dramatic, and energetic spirit, as well as its use of contrast, ornamentation, and harmonic complexity.
One of the main features of baroque music is the development of the basso continuo, a continuous bass line that supports the melody and provides a harmonic foundation. The basso continuo was usually played by keyboard instruments such as harpsichord or organ, along with other instruments such as lute, theorbo, or cello. The basso continuo allowed for more expressive and varied accompaniment than the previous polyphonic style.
Another feature of baroque music is the emergence of new vocal and instrumental genres, such as opera, oratorio, cantata, concerto, sonata, and suite. Opera was a dramatic form that combined music, poetry, scenery, and costumes to tell a story. Oratorio was a sacred form that narrated biblical or religious events. Cantata was a shorter vocal form that consisted of several movements with soloists, chorus, and orchestra. Concerto was an instrumental form that featured a soloist or a group of soloists contrasted with a larger ensemble. Sonata was an instrumental form that consisted of several movements with different tempos and moods. Suite was an instrumental form that consisted of a series of dances with a common key.
Some of the most influential composers of baroque music were Claudio Monteverdi, Antonio Vivaldi, Arcangelo Corelli, Alessandro Scarlatti, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Henry Purcell, George Frideric Handel, Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann, and Antonio Soler. They contributed to the development and refinement of baroque music in different regions and styles. Baroque music reached its peak in the late 17th and early 18th centuries with composers such as Vivaldi, Handel, and Bach. Baroque music gradually gave way to the classical style in the second half of the 18th century with composers such as Franz Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.